A ‘Just Sitting’ Meditation
Happy Thanksgiving! If you are preparing the dinner, waiting for guests, or are just generally stressed on this day, take five and re-center yourself. It’s ok. The kids running around, and the dog barking will wait. The worries of the day can wait too – whatever they are. Find a quiet space, close the door. Dim the lights and maybe light a candle. Create a little sanctuary for yourself. If you have to, go into the bathroom and lock the door. Again it’s ok. You can get back to all the excitement in a few minutes. If you have limited time, set a timer. Try five minutes, or fifteen if you have it.
Sit in a chair or upright on the floor. Get comfortable.
Again, be comfortable, for this the most important part of the practice. If you are not comfortable, rearrange yourself or try sitting someway else. For example, if sitting on the floor seems too hard, give yourself a break and sit in a chair. This is “you time”. Enjoy it!
Sit up straight, place your hands on the tops of your thighs with palms pressing downwards. Your eyes can be open or closed. If you have lit a candle, you can turn your gaze to it.
Sit in this way for a little while. Try to keep focused on what is happening with your body. Notice how all the different parts of you feel. What do your feet feel like? What do your legs feel like? What about your back? Keep going. Explore your entire body.
As your mind wanders to other things, like the smell of coffee, or the bang from downstairs, gently come back to your practice of noticing the feelings coming from your body. When your attention drifts, just say to yourself, “noise” and return to your body. Don’t rush. Start with your toes and end up at the top of your head. Use this labeling technique for the rest of our sitting meditation. When something impinges on your quiet time, just label it, “noise” and return.
Now, bring attention to your breath. Watch the breath as it comes into and out of your body. Bring all your attention and focus to your breath Just watch as the air comes in and goes out. Notice the length of your in breath and the length of your out breath. Just notice, don’t change it in any way. This is your natural breath. As you relax, your breath may become longer and fuller. It also may not. It doesn’t matter. For this time, just notice. Notice how it comes in, and goes out, and notice if it changes on its own over time.
Finally, let your attention on the breath diminish, and notice just your thoughts. Watch them as they come into your mind and watch them as they recede. Like the breath, don’t try to control your thoughts or think in any certain way. Just watch them. When one thought recedes and another one comes up, pay attention to this new thought. Let the old one just fade. Don’t try to stay with any one thought for any time. When it leaves, it leaves. Let it go. Stay with this practice for as long as you like or as long as you have today. Give yourself the gift of “me time ” even for just a little bit in all of the energy and connections of your celebrations. I leave you with this poem as you return to your day.
Thanksgiving is here, so our minds have turned
To what time has taught us, to what we’ve learned:
We often focus all our thought
On shiny things we’ve shopped and bought.
We take our pleasure in material things,
Forgetting the pleasure that friendship brings.
If a lot of our stuff just vanished today,
We’d see the foundation of each happy day
Is special relationships, constant and true,
And that’s when our thoughts go directly to you.
We wish you a Thanksgiving you’ll never forget,
Full of love and joy—your best one yet!
Poem by Joanna Fuchs